One Thousand Scents

Friday, July 27, 2007

Like This: Guess Suede

On the whole, mass-market scents these days just aren't very good. Nearly all of them are copies of one another, products of mere market analysis with little if any artistry to them. That's why it's always such a surprise when I find one that I like.

Guess Suede isn't an instant classic. It probably isn't going to stand the test of time; I can see its being sold for two or three years and then retired to make room for a bunch of other Zeitgeisty scents in the Guess stable. (The only scent of theirs I ever thought was worth a damn was the original women's scent, back in 1990, and even that wasn't great, just novel for its time.) But despite that, I find I'm really enjoying it. It's different enough from the mainstream of men's scents to stand out, at least a little.

It opens with a vivid gust of citrus and pineapple, followed rapidly by the spicy core of nutmeg and sage in a bath of lavender. It's a true, slightly camphoraceous lavender, too, brightened with some synthetics but skillfully avoiding the fresh-ozonic trend that's so relentless and hateful these days.

The spiciness outlasts the lavender, leading to a warm oriental base. After a little while, a warm suede note comes sauntering up, joined by piercing vetiver which is rounded out by sandalwood. None of this sounds especially revolutionary; I think it's the proportions of the ingredients, rather than their novelty, that make the whole composition work, but it does work. The drydown, which lasts for a few hours (it's not an especially long-lived scent), is cozy, but kept from being too sedate by that vetiver.

It's in the house bottle, a large, blocky, stylized "G" with a brushed finish. I thought the Guess bottles were cheap and obvious when they were first launched (the women's is a taller, curvier version of the "G"), but I confess that I like this one; the muted colour of the juice (the original was a bright green) and the finish of the bottle make a more adult presentation.

It isn't a scent for a serious collector, I think; once you've smelled and worn hundreds of scents, you get either jaded or sophisticated, and you need things that are out of the ordinary. But there's nothing wrong with Guess Suede. It's well-made, pleasant, and different enough from the mainstream to stand out, at least a little. I can't believe I'm being such a sucker for something which is surely meant to appeal to 18-to-35s everywhere, but I can't help it. I just like it.


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